School board opts for 5-point grading system for classes

Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education has adopted a new, five-point grading system for advanced placement courses that will bring borough students in line with those in many other school districts across the country.

The new grading system will assign weighted grades to college board advanced placement courses this way: five points for an A, four for a B, three for a C, two points for a D and no points for an F grade. The system will not apply to regular high school courses that will continue to be graded on a four-point system.

School Board President Deb Germano said it would make borough students more competitive with students in other schools that already have AP classes. Such classes are typically a higher level, often involving lots of writing.

Colleges look to the five-point-graded classes to measure relative performance of prospective applicants. Germano said adopting the AP grading would eliminate the difficulty of comparing performance by students in a four-point system typical in borough high schools for regular classes with performance by students in a five-point system.

For instance, a student who takes a higher-level course and achieves a 4.0 in a four-point system may well have done better than another student who achieves a 4.5 in a 5-point system.

"Yet the kid that puts out more effort could get a lower score," Germano said. "It motivates kids to go for the rank."

Sam Stewart, assistant superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, said weighted grades for advanced placement, or AP, courses have been a topic of discussion for the school board and administration for some time.

In a memo to the board, Stewart said the administration expected AP instructors to follow the AP curriculum and prepare students for the AP exam. Weighted grades would not be contingent on actually taking the AP exam, however.

The new scoring system will take effect with the 2004-05 school year.

The board also made changes to the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association handbook for the 2005 school year.

Among these was one that adopts a new policy making students enrolled in correspondence, alternative or charter school programs eligible to participate in certain middle school sports activities. Under the rule, the correspondence or charter program must declare a "school of eligibility" (a regular school) through which to participate. Those students would be eligible to participate only in nonteam-related activities such as cross country, track, skiing and wrestling on a space-available basis determined by the school administrator and-or site council. No middle school student could be bumped from an activity to make room for a charter or correspondence student.

The handbook changes also revise the responsibilities of school athletic directors, including requiring athletic expenditure reports be submitted semi-annually, rather than quarterly, and reducing the appeal window for those suspended from sports teams for handbook violations from 10 days to five.

Further, student athletes may now be suspended from sports participation merely for being "in proximity" to alcohol, illegal drugs or paraphernalia. Previously, suspension relied on a student actually being under the influence or in possession. Proximity is defined as "being in the same vehicle, house, location, party, etc. where you know alcohol-drugs are in illegal possession by minors or you willingly remain in location where you are aware alcohol-drugs are being illegally consumed."

Germano said Wednesday she had opposed the proximity clause. She said the rule would likely prove largely unenforceable but could end up encouraging students to lie or put them in the position of having to inform on their friends. Germano said there was little consistency regarding suspension from participation for such activities across the state.

Parts of the KPSAA handbook are comprised of rules written in reaction to incidents, making the rule book both cumbersome and susceptible to subjective interpretation, she said.

Revisions also were written into KPSAA's Middle School Handbook making technical changes in basketball and volleyball rules.

In other business, the board approved:

Administrator appointments for Guy G. Fisher III, replacing Gary Whiteley as assistant superintendent; Daniel J. Beck, assistant principal at Homer High School; and Sharon K. Conley, principal-teacher at Nikolaevsk School.

Nontenure teacher assignments for Timothy J. McFarland, music-art-PE, Aurora Borealis Charter; Amy Stalmaster, special education, Homer Middle; Christopher Towne, music, Paul Banks and West Homer elementary schools; Erin Southwick, music, Soldotna Elementary; Anne McCabe, grades one through three, Soldotna Mon-tessori Charter; and Susan Larned, grades one through three, Soldotna Montessori Charter School.

Resignations for Dick Sander, principal, Chapman Elementary; John W. Bushell, Quest, Homer Middle; Marcie L. Curry, special education, Kenai Central High; Kim Shostak, special education, on leave of absence from Kenai Central High; Erik Viste, psychologist, Kenai Central High; Beth Ladd, special education, Nikiski Middle-Senior High; Sheila DeVolld, grade five, Redoubt Elementary; Richard C. Houghton, science teacher and athletic director, Seward High; M. Colleen Pucillo, psychologist, Soldotna Middle; and Tracy L. Wimmer, grade five, Sterling Elementary.

Long-term substitute contracts for Diane Bernard, grades one and two, Sears Elementary; and Marie Alexson, grade five, West Homer Elementary School.

Leaves of absence for Nora Ribbens, aide, Nikiski Elementary, effective April 9 to 26; Darrell Moore, custodian, Nikiski Elementary, effective 2004-05 school year; Kyle D. Gauthier, secretary, Soldotna Middle, effective 2004-05 school year.

Tenure status for Jill Herbert, special education, Seward Elementary School.

A new teacher assignment for Kathleen Holt, kindergarten through second grade, Soldotna Montessori Charter School.

Requests for leave of absence for Alexei V. Basargin, social studies teacher at Nikolaevsk; Ann McLain, math teacher at Soldotna High School; and Alecia Lybrand, counselor at Kenai Middle School.

A stipend for a wrestling coach at Voznesenka School.

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